Friday, July 17, 2020

Sketches of Middlesex Husbandry in Buckingham's Boston Courier

Joseph Tinker Buckingham (1779-1861)
via The New York Public Library Digital Collections
This post identifies a newspaper printing of the 1846 farm report that Robert Melvill borrowed for his signed 1850 report to the Berkshire Agricultural Society. As shown previously on Melvilliana, the 1850 farm report, attributed to Robert's cousin Herman Melville by Jay Leyda and editors of the 1987 Northwestern-Newberry Edition of The Piazza Tales and Other Prose Pieces, 1839-1860, reproduces many passages verbatim from Joseph T. Buckingham's 1846 report to the Society of Middlesex Husbandmen in Concord, Massachusetts.

Buckingham's Concord report was first published in the Boston Courier on October 13, 1846 under the heading, "Sketches of Middlesex Husbandry." The Courier published several of the editor's "Sketches" in September and October 1846, supplied after his tour of the county as a member of the examining committee:
It was the writer's privilege, a short time since, to be one of a committee of the Society, appointed to examine the Farms, Reclaimed Meadows, Fruit Trees and Orchards, and Compost Manure, which are offered for the Society's premiums; and it was also his privilege to be associated in the performance of this duty with two gentlemen, who had been practical farmers in the county for more than thirty years. This article, and some others which may follow under the same title, are the result of personal observation. 
-- Boston Courier, September 22, 1846. 
Earlier installments of Buckingham's "Sketches" appeared in the Boston Courier on September 22, 1846; and September 29, 1846. The September 22 article was reprinted from the Boston Courier in the Massachusetts Plowman and New England Journal of Agriculture on October 10, 1846. The September 29 article also appeared in the Worcester Palladium on October 21, 1846; and the Massachusetts Ploughman on November 7, 1846.

The editors of the Massachusetts Ploughman affirmed Buckingham's authorship:
We invite attention to the excellent "Sketches of Middlesex Husbandry," written by the editor of the Courier. The due credit was omitted in a small portion of our last week's edition: but it was corrected after a few of the first numbers were printed. 
-- Massachusetts Ploughman and New England Journal of Agriculture, Saturday, November 14, 1846.
Boston Courier - October 13, 1846 via GenealogyBank
So then, the colorful writing that Robert Melvill would incorporate in his 1850 report appeared in the Boston Courier on October 13, 1846. As Hershel Parker relates at pages 737-8 in Herman Melville: A Biography Volume 1, 1819-1851, Herman did accompany his cousin Robert for three days in July 1850 on a tour of farmland in southern Berkshire County. But if Herman Melville ghost-wrote his cousin's 1850 report to the Berkshire Agricultural Society, he must have ghost-revised Joseph T. Buckingham's 1846 report to the Middlesex Society of Husbandmen and Manufacturers. If Herman Melville wrote that, too, then helping his cousin Robert in 1850 would have required ghost-revising his own ghost-writing.

Buckhingham's report was reprinted from the Boston Courier in the Massachusetts Ploughman on October 31, 1846. And eventually included with the official Transactions of the Agricultural Societies of Massachusetts (Boston, 1846).

Related posts:

No comments:

Post a Comment